blog Sometimes it’s hard to believe that George Orwell’s famous novel 1984 was fiction. With a huge amount of money going into CCTV camera/facial recognition infrastructure around Australia (which police can watch live through their iPads), video cameras being attached to every police officer, mobile fingerprint readers and the Government seeking to store all of our telecommunications data, one wonders whether Orwell was merely a little ahead of his time. The latest privacy invasive technique comes courtesy of The Australian newspaper, which reports that a school in Alice Springs is using GPS tracking to ensure kids attends school. The newspaper writes (we recommend you click here for the full article):
“Centralian Middle School has about 60 families signed up to the new program, which links students’ phones with electronic class attendance roles. If a child fails to attend class, parents automatically receive a text message notifying them of the absence, along with a link to the GPS location of their child.”
Now, I’m as concerned a parent as the rest of them. Like everyone else, I want to make sure that my family is OK. But tracking your child via GPS signals from their mobile phones seems a little extreme; it kind of implies both that you don’t trust the child to start with, as well as that they need to be subject to a technological control regime to keep them under control. Not precisely the best message to send children; unless, of course, you’re seeking to set them up for a life of living in an overbearing surveillance state that tracks their every move. In that context, perhaps the powers that be feel that managing expectations ahead of time is a good idea.
One suspects that the better solution to this issue is for adults to start treating children as adults — trusting them, respecting them, spending time with them, building in respect and responsibility into their relationships, and giving them freedom within safe boundaries until they’re grown. The solution to long-term education and parenting issues cannot be found through technological control.